Bronagh and Kyle
Blackrock woman Bronagh Carroll is on a mission to spread the word about the joy of the Camino walk to others.
Ms Carroll, who lives in North-West Spain, set up her own business which provides Irish people with walking experiences on the Camino.
The former nurse first did the walk, which takes 30 to 35 days to complete, back in 2014 and has completed over 2,500km of different Camino routes since then.
The Camino de Santiago is a network of pilgrims' ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain.
Tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried here. People from across the world travel to follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups.
Despite the gruelling 14 to 16 miles per day Camino walkers have to stick to every day Bronagh says there are many benefits to taking part. She explained: “How can walking up to 30km a day on a muddy trail with a heavy rucksack on your back be magic? Let me tell you. You've probably heard about Spain's Camino de Santiago de Compostela from friends and strangers alike.
“You may even have been tempted to try it once or twice, but pushed the notion to the back of your mind, thinking: 'The Camino is not for me' or, 'I'm not that kind of person'. Well, the Camino is for you. The Camino is for everyone.
“That's the beauty of this walk. I know it can be scary to go out of your comfort zone. But you are never one simple number on the Camino. You form part of other people’s Caminos as much as they form part of yours.”
Bronagh also speaks of the three dimensions to the Camino walk journey: “There are three dimensions to this journey. The first Camino is the physical journey, a walk measured by the kilometers on your legs, the impact on your body and the landscapes and places you pass.
“I remember lying on my bed after walking 32km in one day and thinking, how will I be able to do another 25-30km tomorrow? I was tired and my feet hurt. My mind was doubting my ability to do it again. But somehow, the next day I was once again up early, ready to walk.
“As I walked kilometer after kilometer, the doubts disappeared. I regained confidence with every village I left behind, and was amazed by how resilient the body is and how weak our mind can be at times... how it can prevent us from doing so much.
“By 3pm, I had completed another long journey and it dawned on me: Why do we put these doubts in our heads?
“Since then, I have walked Caminos in Galicia, Cantabria, the Basque Country and part of the Portuguese Way. This summer, I'll be walking the 'English Way' with my 14-year-old nephew. On the Camino you somehow find the energy every day and do it.”
The second part of the Camino journey is the cultural journey. Bronagh adds: “On the Camino, you'll meet other pilgrims from far away places. Each of them are so different when it comes to culture, language and day-to-day life back home, but so similar when it comes to needs and wants in life.
And according to Bronagh, the third part of the Camino pilgrimage is ‘The Inner Journey’.
The Blackrock woman explained: “With countless hours on the Camino, there will be many opportunities for you to walk alone for stretches. This is a fascinating prospect. In our 'real lives', we are constantly connected to others. On the Camino, if the pilgrim wishes, they can completely plug out and disconnect.”
You can book a Camino walk holiday package through Bronagh’s business: www.magichillholidays.com